It seems to me that Federal Way is a city with competing personalities.
When I read commentary in the Federal Way Mirror or talk to people directly, we seem to be locked in philosophical battles. The undercurrent that seems to be the loudest is just say no.
There are several recurring themes. We have Republican versus Democrat, pro-Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC) versus anti-PACC, fund the schools, don’t fund the schools and the city needs more public safety at the expense of other city departments.
Lots of passion, raw emotion, insecurity and everyone looking for the food fight tent to flex their muscles. Some would say welcome to democracy in action.
It’s difficult for elected officials to find a clear path forward. Politicians are dealing with their personal politics of survival, versus what may be in the best long-term interest for the community.
I am looking for the adults to show up and close the sideshows down.
The reality is Federal Way has multiple challenges and needs to find a way to improve on all fronts at once while articulating priorities clearly. As residents, we need to understand the city and school district don’t have sufficient revenues to solve all problems. But all problems need attention, so priorities must be chosen wisely.
The city and school district need to find incremental balance for each issue and show consistent progress toward stated goals. Share the benchmarks and metrics of progress or lack of success. Expectations are high and should be.
The public seems to be skewed toward negativity or apathy on most issues, rather than working to improve outcomes. Community trust for public officials seems to be missing. Righteous arrogance has become the winner of this soap opera rather than listening and dialoguing to understand.
On the “us” versus “them” issues, here are some considerations to manage the dialogue. Keep all statements in the positive. If you do not believe in the current offering or path, provide an alternative for consideration and state why what you are offering would be an improvement.
Open partisanship tends to create animosity, which often leads to nothing getting done. Framing everything as Democrats versus Republicans makes for a good story; it is mostly inside baseball and tends to obscure the challenges of serving the public on a local level.
Some in this community have turned the PACC into a political boogeyman. Yes, it is an expensive project and there is a fear that its costs may affect taxes. Just understand the PACC is a dual-purpose facility that will bring conference business to the community and enable cultural opportunities in this city to grow. The shortcomings of the business pro forma that was initially presented can be resolved.
The school district needs to be properly funded. Suggesting the district needs to be punished because some may not like the board’s grading system choices is an oxymoron. School district success starts with a positive attitude and requires nurturing and active participation from the community. Students, parents and the district, when equally engaged, can meet achievement expectations.
The perception that more police are needed is an easy emotional sell. But before we add more onto the payroll, it should be justified from a factual basis of need. If the city’s crime statistics are trending down or maintaining at reduced levels, we should look at bolstering other department’s resources to assure quality and capacity in all areas.
These are complex issues and emotions are part of the process, but not part of the solution. Please realize if you want to be one of the adults in the room, your throwing tomatoes must be left outside.
Federal Way resident Keith Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org